Do Crocodiles and Alligators Drink Water?

All living things need water, so yes, crocodiles and alligators drink water. However, drinking water is something that people rarely witness in the wild and captivity.

Crocodiles and alligators spend a lot of their time in the water. As such, it is not unusual for them to swallow water when they are under or even if they are on the water’s surface. It is why people do not see them lap water like a dog or other mammals.

Do Crocodiles and Alligators Drink Water

How do crocodiles and alligators drink water?

There was this alligator enthusiast who documented how an alligator drinks water. He said he saw an American alligator drink water back in 2004.

He described his experience and noted that the alligator was on the riverbank. The alligator moved its head towards the water and then dipped its snout, but not before turning its lower jaw at a 45-degree angle.

The enthusiast then noticed that the alligator lowered its tongue and opened the palatal valve from its throat. Then, the alligator used its tongue to push the water back to her throat. The wildlife enthusiast also said that the alligator drank water for about five minutes.

Alligators and crocodiles, like the snake, usually get their water intake from their prey. It is why they do not drink all the time. However, they will drink water as the alligator did in the earlier explanation if they have not captured prey for quite a will.

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What do a crocodile and an alligator eat in the water?

No, they do not “eat” under the water. Both alligators and crocodiles can bite in the water, but they do not chew in the water. When diving, they hunt for food and take that food to the surface.

Why do crocodiles and alligators have to go to the surface? They do this because they are not fish. They do not have gills. Instead, both crocs and gators have lungs. If they eat under the water, they will swallow a lot of water, and they can drown.

Crocodiles and alligators, however, have a palatal valve, which they can close when underwater. When they bite, this palatal valve closes the throat, and this closure prevents them from accidentally swallowing water.

After that, they take the prey to the surface, where they take big bites off the meat. When they swallow, they do so with their jaws and mouths on the surface of the water.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles and Alligators Stop Growing?

Do crocodiles and alligators drink saltwater?

It is not known for sure, but there is one study showing that the estuarine crocodile drinks freshwater, but not saltwater.

This study focused on the Crocodylusporosus, or the saltwater crocodile. The researcher observed that the saltwater crocodile avoided drinking saltwater despite the substantial loss of water in its body.

In freshwater, the saltwater crocodile drank to achieve water balance. The final conclusion is that the saltwater crocodile does not depend on drinking to achieve water balance in its body.

The researcher stipulated in his published scientific work that this finding does not represent all crocodiles.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles Have Webbed Feet?

Why do living things need to drink water?

All living things need a solvent to transport nutrients to the different parts of the body. As it happens, water is the most stable of these solvents. It is also safe.

Here are some things worth knowing:

  • Water, compared to other liquids, is a stable compound. It cannot be broken down easily, which means it can do its job of moving nutrients and chemicals from one place to another.
  • Because of water’s properties, it is ideal for regulating temperature. It is also ideal as a safe solvent.
  • Digestion is a process that needs saliva—water enhances this process.

Because of this, there is no living thing in the world that does not need water. Even tiny microorganisms, including single-celled organisms, need water.

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How do crocodiles and alligators fill their need for water?

It is a rare sight to see a crocodile or alligator lap water from a riverbank. No one has really given this much thought, let alone study the drinking habits of crocodiles and alligators.

However, these animals are semi-aquatic. What it means is that they spend an excessive amount of time in the water.

As such, one can surmise that they do drink when they are in the water. It is possibly not obvious, considering that they dive and splash in the water all the time. When a crocodile snaps its jaws while in the water, no one really knows if the palatal valve is open or not.

Some animals, like a snake, may not even have a taste for water for their whoe lives. These are snakes that live in the desert. They do not die, though, as they take water from the prey that they eat.

The same cannot be said of crocodiles and alligators, as both of them have access to bodies of water. They live in rivers, marshes, lakes, ponds, and many more water habitats.

One thing that was proven though was that the saltwater crocodile does not want to drink saltwater. For humans, saltwater is bad because the body does not have the ability to push the salt out of the system. A human that drinks too much salt will die.

It is a curiosity as to why the saltwater crocodile does not want to drink saltwater because it can push the salt away from its body. Saltwater crocodiles have lingual salt glands—these glands excrete excess salt from the body, which helps the crocodile achieve homeostasis.


Crocodiles and alligators drink water, but not all the time. They need water to survive. However, one research about the saltwater crocodile suggests that it does not depend on drinking water to hydrate itself. Not much is known about how the crocodile processes water from its prey, but it is likely that it has some similarities with snakes. Crocodiles and alligators take their water supply from their prey and then only drink if they have not eaten for a while. It is possible that they drink underwater, but it is not too observable.

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